US Forces destroyed a Shabaab car bomb allegedly planned for use in an attack in Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia. The airstrike that destroyed the car bomb earlier today is the 28th carried out by US forces against the al Qaeda branch this year, US Africa Command told FDD’s Long War Journal. AFRICOM has also targeted the Islamic State in four separate operations this year.
The strike occurred in Mubarak, a Shabaab-held village just 40 miles south of the capital, according to the Associated Press. AFRICOM announced that the suicide car bomb, or vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), removed “an imminent threat to the people of Mogadishu.”
The US government has previously identified the Lower Shabelle Region, where Mubarak is located, as a “known safe haven” for Shabaab. On July 30, the US military killed Ali Jabal, a senior al Qaeda leader who directed attacks in the Somali capital, in an airstrike in the Lower Shabelle Region.
Shabaab regularly targets civilians, government officials and journalists in Somalia’s capital with car bombings. At least 36 such attacks occurred in 2017. In Oct. 2017, in the most deadly attack of its kind rocked Somalia when Shabaab launched a double VBIED attack in Mogadishu that killed over 230.
The US military has launched 32 strikes in Somalia since the beginning of 2017, more than doubling last year’s total of 15, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal. AFRICOM confirmed that 28 of the strikes targeted Shabaab and another four targeted Islamic State “militants, fighting positions, infrastructure, and equipment.”
“US forces in cooperation with the government of Somalia, are conducting ongoing counterterrorism operations against al-Shabaab and ISIS [Islamic State] in Somalia to degrade the groups’ ability to recruit, train, and plot terror attacks in Somalia, throughout the region, and against the US homeland,” AFRICOM told FDD’s Long War Journal.
The US military ramped up strikes against Shabaab and the Islamic State’s networks in Somalia at the end of March, after the Trump administration loosened the restrictions on the use of force against Shabaab. Both the Departments of Defense and State have noted that Shabaab has become more dangerous over the past year and has regained territory. Shabaab has killed hundreds of African Union and Somali forces while overrunning bases in southern Somalia and has maintained its safe havens while expanding areas under its control during 2016.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal. Alexandra Gutowski is a military affairs analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.